Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

Somerford Township Early Settlers

From History of Madison County, Ohio, Chester E. Bryan, Supervising Editor, B.F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis (1915)

The first settlement in this township was made in the eastern part, on or near Deer creek, between the years of 1802 and 1805. In 1803-04, there came from Kentucky two brothers, Robert and John Scott, of whom but little can be learned as to their place of settlement or the good they accomplished. At about the same date, and from the same state, came Tobias Shields and his two sons, John and Andrew, and located in this township. There were probably more of this family than the above mentioned, but their history cannot be gathered. After the organization of Madison county and of Deer Creek township—the latter embracing a large scope of territory, including Somerford—John and Andrew Shields held various otfices in the township for several years. Tobias, the father, was a true backwoodsman, rough in his habits and nature, and was blind for thirty years before his death. About this time, Charles Atchison, also from Kentucky, settled here and proved a_most worthy and useful citizen; he was probably the first treasurer of the township after its erection and also filled many other offices in the township. Daniel Ross was another pioneer settler of the same date. He had a large family, of whom there is record of the following sons: Angus, David, John and Alexander, who were ail more or less in the various offices of the township until 1836. They evidently left this township about the latter date and emigrated west. In 1805 came John Wilson, from Greenbrier county, Virginia, who, with John Arbuckle, erected a double log house, in which they both resided for some time. He was one of the first trustees, which office he filled four years in succession. About 1808-10, Gabriel Markle, a native of Maryland, emigrated to Ohio, and settled in Somerford township, one mile north of the village of Summerford, on Deer creek. Here he remained through life and died about 1825, nearly eighty years of age. He was of German descent, a good, industrious man and a worthy citizen. He had four sons and nine daughters, who grew up and became worthy citizens of the township. About 1811, Samuel Dickerson, a native of Virginia, settled here. He was a noted hunter, a good farmer and a respected citizen. George Prugh was born in Maryland and married Margaret Markle. Mr. Prugh was of German descent and his wife was a native of Maryland. He emigrated to Ohio in 1812 and settled in what was then Deer Creek township, but now a part of Somerford, about one mile north of the village of Summerford, where he remained till their death. He died in 1841 and his wife in 1864. He was a very excellent citizen and held the offices of trustee, treasurer and justice of the peace. Two of his sons, Samuel and G. W. Prugh, remained throughout their lives in this township and were most honored and respected citizens.

William Pepper. a native of Maryland, settled here about the year 1810-12, as is shown by the township records. He was a supervisor in 1812. John Summers, a native of Virginia, who settled here about 1813, was a blacksmith by trade and perhaps the first to ply his trade in this township.

Shedrick Preston, from Greenbrier county, Virginia, settled on the tract of land purchased by John Arbuckle, about 1812-13, as in 1814 he served as township trustee. Subsequently he moved to the Big Sandy. Abner S. Williard was a native of Vermont, born in 1791. He emigrated first to Canada, thence to New York, and in 1812 came to Champaign county, Ohio; in 1815 he removed to Madison county, where he lived until his death. He married Hulda Colver, who was born on the banks of Lake Champaign, in New York state, in 1796. They were married in Madison county in 1817. He died on December 16, 1872, and his wife died on June 3, 1861. He was a man of undoubted character, and esteemed and respected by all who knew him. David Colver, a native of Virginia, settled in this township about 1815-16. In early life he was a sailor and traveled quite extensively. He was an active, industrious man, a good neighbor, and a firm Universalist in religious faith.

John Barrett, a native of Maryland, was a brother-in-law of John Arbuckle, they having married sisters. He came to this county soon after Mr. Arbuckle and settled on the same tract of land. He died with that prevalent, yet much dreaded, disease, milk sickness. Jacob Steele settled here about 1815. Thomas Taylor came from Chillicothe, Ohio, and settled on Deer creek, about 1815, where he lived about five years; thence settled on the Old Columbus and Springfield stage road, and there kept a tavern in an early day. He made good improvements, was an excellent and intelligent man and a good citizen. Late in life he moved to the village of Summerford, where he died at the age of about eighty years.

Valentine Wilson, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1786, emigrated with his father's family, in 1790, to Clark county, Kentucky, where he remained a citizen twelve years; then, in 1802, he emigrated to Ohio and settled on the headwaters of Beaver Creek, in Bath township, Greene county. In 1816. Mr. Wilson removed to Madison county and settled on the headwaters of Deer creek. He was married three times and was the father of nineteen children. He was first married in 1806, to Eleanor Judy, by whom he had six children. She died on the 5th of September, 1818, and in 1819 he married Mrs. Susanna Umble, who became the mother of four children. She died on August 18, 1825, and on June 18, 1827, he married for his third wife, Nancy Roberts, who became the mother of nine children. Of these nineteen children, all but one grew to maturity, and of the eighteen who arrived at maturity, all but one became the heads of families. Mr. Wilson died on July 2, 1855, on the farm where he first located in 1816. From a smaller beginning, on one hundred and sixty acres of land, bought of the man who had recently entered it, with Congress scrip, in the thirty-nine years of his after life he had accumulated nearly ten thousand acres of land, and died the wealthiest man in Madison county.

John J. Roberts Settled here abotut 1817. He was the successor of Gabriel Markle to the grist-mill on Deer creek. Sutton Potee, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, emigrated with his wife and three children, in the fall of 1817, to Ohio, and settled on the farm located near the National road, on Deer creek. He married Hannah Markle, by whom he had six children. Mr. Potee was a very active, stirring man, and devoted his whole business life to farming. He was cautious in all business transactions, of firm and undoubted character, and a life-long member of the Methodist church.

William and Charles Soward, brothers, settled on the James D. Statler land about 1817. The latter subsequently removed to Logan county. They were men of good character and great business ability. William started in life poor, but became quite wealthy. Amos Howard was born on Goose island, in the Connecticut river, Grafton county, New Hampshire, April 9, 1775. He married Miran Mills, who was born on March 18, 1774. They were married on March 22, 1796, and removed to Virginia in 1808. In 1809 he came down the Ohio river in a flat boat and evidently settled in Somerford township about the year 1817-18. He was burned to death in 1843. He came here a very poor man, but by industry, economy and close application to his business, he accumulated a good competency. His son, Amos J., settled on the home place and lived there through life; he died April 16, 1882. The Howard family have ever been known as most worthy and respected citizens.

John Cory settled in the northern part of the township about 1818, and served as a justice of the peace. Eli Williams, a native of Virginia, settled in this township about 1818-20. Thomas Orpet, a native of Maryland, married a sister of George Prugh, and settled on Deer creek, about the year 1818-19. He died about the year 1861. He was of German descent, uneducated, and would never allow his children the benefits of education, believing it dangerous and injurious. Erastus Hathaway, a native of New York and a ship carpenter by trade, settled here with his family about 1818-20, and lived and died in that township. He purchased his land of John Caperton, a native of Virginia, who settled here about 1814, but, in 1832, returned to his native state. Mr. Hathaway was a man of ability and character, and served as trustee and justice of the peace. James and Dwyer Brown, brothers, were natives of New York, but became residents of Somerford township about 1818-20. James was born on June 21, 1795, and died on March 13, 1875. He first emigrated to Canada and later to Ohio. His wife, Mary Ann, was born in Virginia in 1803, and they were married in Madison county. Dwyer Brown married Miss McMullen, and subsequently moved west. James Brown was an excellent citizen and neighbor, a useful member of society, and was intrusted with many of the offices of the township. He reared a large family of children, whose character was above reproach.

Ansel Bates came to this township and settled just north of Tradersville, about 1818. His children were Asa, Ansel, Elijah, William, Sylvanus and Zenas. The last two were twins. The sons were quite prominent and well known in the affairs of the county, but the latter emigrated west. William Scott settled in this township about the year 1820. He married Betsy Rigdon and subsequently moved to Pekin, Illinois, where he died. Charles Rigdon came here from Champaign county and settled about the same time—1820-21. Richard Baldwin came here, presumably from Chillicothe, and settled on surveys No. 9,285 and No. 10,626, about the year 1820, where he resided until about 1837. He then removed to Mechanicsburg. Samuel Houston, a native of Pennsylvania, settled here about 1820. He married Elizabeth Arbuckle. He was an intelligent and well-educated man and one of the township's best citizens. He taught school and was later township clerk. Michael Statler was a native of Virginia and settled in this township on the Urbana road, about 1824. He was accidentally killed in 1842 while cutting down a tree, which fell on him and Crushed him.

Luther Newcom, a Yankee, settled here about 1820, and was among the first teachers in the township. William Harber, a native of Virginia, was the only surviving member of his father's family, the others having been killed by the Indians when he was but a child; he escaped by secreting himself in the tall grass. He grew to manhood, married and, about the year 1825, settled in the northern part of this township. He raised a large family of children, but who, in later years moved west. Samuel Wilson came to this locality from Paint township, and settled in the west part of the township, in survey 6,078, about the year 1825. He remained here only five years, when he removed to Illinois. William Kirkley settled in the northern part of this township, on land owned by Thomas Bales, about 1825-30. He married Mary Cowan, who was an excellent Christian woman. Peter Smith, who was a native of Clark county, Ohio, settled here about 1842. He was killed in 1880, when a train of cars passed over his body. Samuel and John H. Kennedy, a native of Virginia, settled here quite early, probably about 1815-20. The latter became a prominent and useful citizen, was justice of the peace forty years and probate judge from 1864 to 1876.

Jonathan Markle, a brother of Gabriel Markle, came here and settled with his brother, Ezra Markle, of the same family. He was also an early settler, this family being among the true pioneers of the township. A few others who were here prior to 1830 were John Nagley, Asa Owens, George Vance, Bennett Warren, Benjamin Hull, Levi Umble, John Osborn, John Groves, Henry Groves, Noah Marsh, Newman Mitchell, Joseph Geer, James Geer and John Osborn.

Still later, from 1830 to 1840, the following settlers were prominently connected with the growth and prosperity of the township: Gardner Lewis and his son, Schuyler, who were natives of New York, but settled here in 1836; he died in 1862. Rev. Eli Adams, a native of Maryland, settled in the extreme western part of the township, where he died in 1870; he was a most excellent man and a minister of the gospel. A. J. Clingan, a native of Maryland, settled in Somerford in 1839. He was a tailor by trade and followed this profession while a resident of the latter town. He held the office of justice of the peace for a number of years. John M. Houston, a native of Kentucky, emigrated to Clark county, Ohio, in 1814, where he married Maria E. Cartmell, a native of Clark county. They settled in this township in 1837, removing to London in January, 1877, where he died on January 29, 1879. He served as justice of the peace and trustee for a number of years. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

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